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NIXON SUES HOG FARM

January 19, 1999
By: Clayton Bellamy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - State Attorney General Jay Nixon filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Premium Standard Farms, the state's largest hog megafarm.

The suit filed in Johnson County circuit court cited several specific violations of state environmental laws.

Nixon requests an order to force PSF to stop its hog breeding activities until the company begins a court-approved waste management plan. The company's northern Missouri farm confines more than 900,000 pigs.

PSF and the attorney general's office had been negotiating a resolution during the past year that would have prevented court proceedings, according to the attorney general's office. But talks broke down after Nixon discovered that PSF had been fertilizing nearby farms with illegally high amounts of hog waste.

"The violations were continuing to occur," said Scott Holste, spokesman for the attorney general. "The negotiations were not making the progress we hoped. A lawsuit was the next logical step."

The suit would force PSF to comply with state environmental laws and pay the appropriate penalties, which could be as high as $10,000 per day for each violation.

Charlie Arnot, spokesman for PSF, said the company has begun steps to remedy the situation.

In the last six months PSF has hired an independent auditor to monitor the company's environmental performance, Arnot said, and each year the results of the audit will be released to the state and the media.

"Premium Standard Farms accepts responsibility for our environmental performance," he said. "We will cooperate with the state and the attorney general." Due to the litigation, Arnot could not comment on the specific citations.

At least one state environmental group cheered the lawsuit.

"We're pleased the attorney general has been so aggressive in combating environmental violations," said Roger Pryor, spokesman for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. "Of all state officials, the attorney general has shown more interest in environmental issues."